Thoughts on being an American

First, an explanation.

This photo was taken on one of my last days in Indonesia this summer. This particular photo goes out to Nicole and Tom who put me up to it. Tom uses this lovely American flag as his beach towel. When he whipped it out of his bag, Nicole and I went crazy. Before I knew it I was hitching a ride on some sweet Indonesian kid’s ATV and going for a joy ride, flag, smiles and all.

I often joke  that I possibly make one of the worst Americans of all time. I don’t vote as often as I could, I’m apathetic and I prefer to spend my days abroad, learning about new places, new people. And yet, I have it so good. Being an American is something that I do often take for granted.

On my flight to NYC from Dubai this summer, I sat beside a special guest to the United Nations from Tanzania. He was a remarkable individual and we got to talking about travel, experiences abroad and most of all, being AMERICAN. I told him I didn’t make a very good American and I always feel more like myself during my stays abroad.

What he said in response to that has really stuck with me. He told me that overall, “You have it good. You have an American passport, but you are a global citizen.” I like that. And, it is true. I should consider myself a global citizen with the blessing of American nationality. And that’s that.

During my stay in Indonesia this summer, I also read through Tracey Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains about Paul Farmer. I wrote this quote down in my journal and just found it the other day –

“I think that the rich can always call themselves democratic, but the sick people are not among the rich. . . Look, I’m very proud to be an American. I have many opportunities because I am American. I can travel freely throughout the world, I can start projects, but that’s called privilege, not democracy.” – Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains

C’est tout.

[Photo: Depock Beach, Indonesia//Grace Farson]

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